Orpheus at Battersea Arts Centre
Centred around the Ancient Greek tale of the legendary musician and poet Orpehus and his attempt to retrieve his beloved Eurydice from the underworld, you might expect togas and laurel wreaths. Instead you’ll find yourself being catapulted into the 1930s, as Little Bulb Theatre have taken the liberty of bringing the spirit of every gypsy jazz guitarist’s hero – Django Reinhardt – back to life, casting him in the lead role.
The presence of Reinhardt in this production is what really makes it. Though unusual, his character never feels out of place in the tale as he silently prances about the stage, lyre in hand. The exceptionally talented female trio who provide narration (the triplettes de l’antiquite) sing angelically and harmoniously – not to mention they’re hilarious, and star Yvette Pepin plays the tragic Eurydice beautifully.
What really stands out throughout the performance is the music. Our Reinhardt takes the centre stage to play the iconic Minor Swing on his guitar; the couple are married to the sweet sounds of Debussy’s Claire de Lune; the female singing trio provide live violin, cello and accordion; and Pepin sings us an English translation of Edith Piaf’s Hymne a L’Amour (“If you love me, really love me”).
It’s the haunting music and touching harmonies that pull on the heart strings and move the audience to feel both sadness and mirth for the protagonists. If not for the love story, we encourage anyone to go and indulge in this performance for the wonderful Chanson and Hot Club Jazz, which is truly magical.
Photos: James Allen
Orpheus is on at Battersea Arts Centre until 17th May 2014, for further information or to book visit here.